Good morning. This is Jonathan Spira reporting. Here now the news of the pandemic from across the globe on the 1,033rd day of the pandemic.
Tuesday marked the third anniversary of the first death in the United States from SARS-CoV-2
The first such death took place on February 6, 2020. The individual in question died at home in Santa Clara County, California, before Covid testing was widespread in the country or anywhere in the world.
The county medical examiner carried out an autopsy and sent samples to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which confirmed the cause of death.
“These three individuals died at home during a time when very limited testing was available only through the CDC,” the county’s health department said at the time, referencing the first three people who died from Covid. “Testing criteria set by the CDC at the time restricted testing to only individuals with a known travel history and who sought medical care for specific symptoms.”
Previously, the first death from Covid was believed to have been on March 9.
The deceased was not identified.
Three years later, just under 1.2 million people have died in the United States and the global death toll from SARS-CoV-2 is 6.8 million. Some 450 people still die each day from the virus on average in the United States.
In other news we cover today, a study found that respiratory viruses do not appear to be a major concern to many people and another study found that conservative doctors are more likely to use unproven cures for SARS-CoV-2.
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Researchers from the University of Missouri have listed seven distinct symptoms associated with Long Covid. The scientists analyzed medical records from 122 U.S. health systems, covering more than 17,000 patients diagnosed with Covid-19 before April 2022, and matched them with 17,000 patients diagnosed with the common cold, influenza, or viral pneumonia over the same period. They also looked at 16,000 people with no record of Covid-19 or respiratory virus infection. They found that long COVID was associated with the seven diagnoses.
The research is a work in progress. The list of seven symptoms includes heart palpitations, hair loss, fatigue, chest pain, difficulty breathing, joint pain, and obesity. However, the research, apparently due to a lack of data, did not incorporate some of the most prominent symptoms of Long Covid, including brain fog and autonomic nervous system dysfunction.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams announced on Monday that he will end the coronavirus vaccine mandate for current and prospective municipal workers starting Friday. More than 96% of New York City workers are fully vaccinated against the virus.
In a statement, Hizzoner said that “[W]ith the vast majority of city workers and New Yorkers vaccinated, and more tools readily available to protect people from serious illness, the vaccine requirement for the primary series of shots has served its purpose, driving rates of vaccination up among the city’s workforce during a critical period in the pandemic.”
Even though 38% of households have recently had a case of a respiratory virus, a new study from the Kaiser Family Foundation indicates that such viruses – which include the flu, SARS-CoV-2, and respiratory syncytial virus, RSV – are not a major concern for many Americans.
The researchers found that almost 50% of adults took some precautionary precautions to avoid getting sick this past winter, including nearly 31% who said they were more likely to wear a mask in public. More than 25% said they were avoiding large gatherings, and about 20% said they were traveling less or avoiding indoor dining ouside the home.
Mandatory masking is back at four elementary schools in Marin County, California. The move was made due to Covid-19 outbreaks, officials said Monday. Dr. Matt Willis, the county’s public health officer, told the Marin Independent Journal that the county also is tracking coronavirus cases at two other elementary schools where infections are spreading.
Meanwhile, two scientists in Virginia may have a solution for coronavirus patients who have lost their sense of smell, something that afflicts an estimated 15 million people in the United States. Virginia Commonwealth University researchers Richard Costanzo and Daniel Coelho have developed a “neuroprosthetic” – a kind of bionic nose – to detect odors and send the appropriate signal to the brain. In 2016 the two researchers were awarded a U.S. patent for their olfactory-implant system and their research became more relevant with the advent of the coronavirus pandemic.
Finally, if you wondered whether your doctor was a quack for suggesting ivermectin or hydroxychloroquine as a cure for SARS-CoV-2, he might just be more conservative. A study from the University of Pittsburgh found that more conservative parts of the country were more likely to use unproven Covid-19 “cures” than other parts.
The researchers surveyed a group of doctors and a group of lay people from April 2020 to April 2022 and asked participants to evaluate scientific research on the drugs.
“Political ideology colors the evaluation of scientific evidence to a greater degree when it pertains to a politicized treatment,” the report reads. “After reading otherwise identical results, partisans’ responses were more polarized when the drug was identified as ivermectin relative to when it was anonymized, with participants who were more conservative reporting that the evidence was less informative, the study was less methodologically rigorous, and the authors were more likely to be biased.”
Schools and universities across China are starting their new semesters following the abrupt pivot away from the country’s draconian “zero-Covid” rules late last year. However, in some places, virtual instruction will be used due to surges that began late last year.
OTHER HEALTHCARE NEWS
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Preventions said that cases of norovirus are surging in the country. The massive uptick in positive cases has been occurring since late January.
Now here are the daily statistics for Tuesday, February 7.
As of Tuesday morning, the world has recorded 676.5 million Covid-19 cases, an increase of 0.2 million cases, and 6.78 million deaths, according to Worldometer, a service that tracks such information. In addition, 648.9 million people worldwide have recovered from the virus, an increase of 0.1 million.
The reader should note that infrequent reporting from some sources may appear as spikes in new case figures or death tolls.
Worldwide, the number of active coronavirus cases as of Tuesday at press time is 20,733,589, a decrease of 43,000. Out of that figure, 99.8%, or 20,691,988, are considered mild, and 0.2%, or 41,601, are listed as critical. The percentage of cases considered critical has not changed over the past 24 hours.
The United States reported 24,780 new coronavirus infections on Tuesday for the previous day, compared to 2,718 on Monday, 2,986 on Sunday, 64,375 on Saturday, 67,603 on Friday, and 109,666 on Thursday, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The 7-day incidence rate is now 43,301. Figures for the weekend (reported the following day) are typically 30% to 60% of those posted on weekdays due to a lower number of tests being conducted.
The average daily number of new coronavirus cases in the United States over the past 14 days is 39,330, a figure down 15% over the past 14 days, based on data from the Department of Health and Human Services, among other sources. The average daily death toll over the same period is 454, a decrease of 7% over the same period, while the average number of hospitalizations for the period was 30,035 , a decrease of 18%. In addition, the number of patients in ICUs was 3,787, a decrease of 19% and the test positivity rate is now 10%, an 8% decrease and a figure that has remained constant for the past 7 days..
In addition, since the start of the pandemic the United States has, as of Tuesday, recorded 104.5 million cases, a higher figure than any other country, and a death toll of 1.14 million. India has the world’s second highest number of officially recorded cases, 44.7 million, and a reported death toll of 530,745.
The newest data from Russia’s Rosstat state statistics service showed that, at the end of July, the number of Covid or Covid-related deaths since the start of the pandemic there in April 2020 is now 823,623, giving the country the world’s second highest pandemic-related death toll, behind the United States. Rosstat last reported that 3,284 people died from the coronavirus or related causes in July 2022, down from 5,023 in June, 7,008 in May and 11,583 in April.
Meanwhile, France is the country with the third highest number of cases, with 39.5 million, and Germany is in the number four slot, with 37.8 million total cases.
Brazil, which has recorded the third highest number of deaths as a result of the virus, 697,439, has recorded just under 36.9 million cases, placing it in the number five slot.
The other five countries with total case figures over the 20 million mark are Japan, with 32.8 million cases, South Korea, with 30.3 million cases, placing it in the number seven slot, and Italy, with 25.5 million, as number eight, as well as the United Kingdom, with 24.3 million, and Russia, with 22 million.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that, as of the past Thursday, 268.9 million people in the United States – or 81% – have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Of that population, 69.2%, or 229.6 million people, have received two doses of vaccine, and the total number of doses that have been dispensed in the United States is now 668.8 million. Breaking this down further, 91.9% of the population over the age of 18 – or 237.4 million people – has received at least a first inoculation and 78.9% of the same group – or 203.7 million people – is fully vaccinated. In addition, 18.8% of the same population, or over 48.6 million people, has already received an updated or bivalent booster dose of vaccine.
Starting on June 13, 2022, the CDC began to update vaccine data on a weekly basis and publish the updated information on Thursdays by 8 p.m. EDT, a statement on the agency’s website said.
Some 69.4% of the world population has received at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine by Tuesday, according to Our World in Data, an online scientific publication that tracks such information. So far, 13.27 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered on a global basis and 1.39 million doses are now administered each day.
Meanwhile, only 26.4% of people in low-income countries have received one dose, while in countries such as Canada, China, Denmark, France, Italy, the United Kingdom, and the United States, at least 75% of the population has received at least one dose of vaccine.
Only a handful of the world’s poorest countries – Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia and Nepal – have reached the 70% mark in vaccinations. Many countries, however, are under 20% and, in countries such as Haiti, Senegal, and Tanzania, for example, vaccination rates remain at or below 10%.
In addition, with the start of vaccinations in North Korea in late September, Eritrea remains the only country in the world that has not administered vaccines.
Anna Breuer contributed reporting to this story.
(Photo: Accura Media Group)